State voters overwhelmingly reject Riley tax proposal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The last time Gov. Bob Riley faced an election, the final outcome was hardly as simple as the one Tuesday night. Only this time, Riley came out on the losing end of the battle.

With 83 percent of the precincts reporting, the Governor’s $1.2 billion tax increase proposal was clobbered by a vote of 741,479 to 345,326. It took just more than an hour for the Associated Press to call the election, and only a few minutes later for Riley to concede defeat.

Most citizens in Marengo County joined others in the state who weren’t quite ready to put a hole in the pocketbook.

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With all 32 precincts in Marengo County reporting, Riley’s tax plan failed 4,441 (56 percent) to 3,489 (44 percent).

To Cooley, and many like him, Alabama government officials have to do a better job of balancing their own checkbooks before they go dipping in the checkbooks of citizens.

Roy Geiger, who manages Sumter Timber in Demopolis, agreed.

That was a question few people could answer. Throughout his campaign through Alabama &045;&045; which did not include a stop in Marengo County &045;&045; Riley said he wanted to go beyond the just the needs. Instead, he said bringing in more revenue to state government would give Alabama a top-notch education system.

That was the case for Bird, who said he didn’t even understand how he would be affected as a land owner.

All across Alabama, voter turnout was labeled as "good." Probate Judge Cindy Neilsen said the same held true in Marengo County.

The last time Marengo County faced a special referendum &045;&045; the lottery vote of 1999 &045;&045; Neilsen said people in Marengo didn’t show up in the same numbers as they did on Tuesday.

Though an overwhelming majority of voters said they didn’t like the tax proposal by Riley, most opponents conceded that Alabama does need reform.

Regardless, Cooley, Geiger and Bird all said they want accountability in state government before they see another revenue-generating proposal.

And Bird believes that if a lottery were put on a ballot tomorrow, citizens in this state would approve of the measure.

Finley doesn’t believe state voters will see a lottery referendum anytime soon, though he did admit that former Gov. Don Siegelman must be snickering today.